Kingdom of Heaven (movie)

From Academic Kids

There is another article about the theological concept of the Kingdom of Heaven.

Template:Infobox Movie Kingdom of Heaven is a movie that was released on May 6, 2005, written by William Monahan, directed by Ridley Scott, and starring Orlando Bloom, Liam Neeson, Jeremy Irons, Edward Norton and Eva Green. Its story deals with the Crusades of the 12th century, and involves a blacksmith who aids the city of Jerusalem in its defense against the great Islamic leader Saladin, who battles to reclaim the city from the Christians. The script is loosely based on the life of Balian of Ibelin.

It was reported that the Moroccan government sent hundreds of soldiers to protect the set and crew. However, the Moroccan cavalry were actually on hand as extras in the epic battle-scenes.

Most filming took place in Ouarzazate in Morocco, where Scott filmed Gladiator and Black Hawk Down. A replica of the ancient city of Jerusalem was constructed in the desert. It was also filmed in Spain, at the Luarre castle and buildings in Seville.



Many of the characters in the movie are heavily fictionalized versions of historical figures:

Historical accuracy

It is true that Baldwin IV, King of Jerusalem from 1174-1185, was a leper, and that his sister Sibylla was married to Guy of Lusignan. Also, Baldwin IV had a falling out with Guy before his death, and so Guy did not succeed Baldwin IV immediately; instead, he was in reality succeeded by Sibylla's son from a previous marriage, the five-year-old Baldwin V. Sibylla fully supported Guy and was not sympathetic toward the faction that wanted peace with Saladin. After the death of the child Baldwin V, Guy garrisoned the city and Sibylla became queen. The crowning scene in the movie was, in real life, more of a shock: Sibylla had been forced to divorce Guy before becoming queen, with the assurance that she would be permitted to pick her own consort. She chose to re-marry Guy and he was crowned king-consort by Patriarch Heraclius (who is unnamed in the movie).

Tiberias, whose name in real history was Raymond III, Count of Tripoli, cousin of the king and the Kingdom's most important noble, as well as sometime regent, often conflicted with Guy and Raynald, both fortune-seekers having come from Europe, unfamiliar with the local situation. They had risen to their positions by marrying wealthy heiresses. Raymond preferred friendly relations with Muslims, as Tiberias does in the movie. Guy and Raynald, seeking rapid profits, harassed Saladin's caravans, and Raynald captured Saladin's sister during one of these raids. Saladin attacked the kingdom in revenge for this harassment. The kingdom was defeated at the Battle of Hattin, partly due to the conflict between Guy and Raymond/Tiberias. The aftermath of the battle is depicted in the movie: Guy and Raynald were captured, and according to al-Safadi in al-Wafi bi'l-wafayat, Raynald was executed after drinking from the goblet offered to Guy, as the sultan had once made a promise never to give anything to Raynald. Guy was imprisoned but later freed, and eventually became lord of Cyprus when others paid for him to receive it, apparently desiring to move him away from Palestine.

There was a Haute Cour, a "high court", a sort of medieval parliament, in which Jeremy Iron's character Tiberias is seen arguing with Guy for or against war, in front of Baldwin IV as the final judge.

The movie alludes to the Battle of Montgisard in 1177, in which 16-year-old Baldwin IV defeated Saladin, with Saladin narrowly escaping.

The Knights Hospitaller and Knights Templar were the most enthusiastic about fighting Saladin and the Muslims. They were monk-knights, committed to celibacy. Neither Guy nor Raynald was a Templar, as the movie implies.

Orlando Bloom's character Balian the Younger supported Raymond/Tiberias and favoured peace. However, Balian was at that time a mature gentleman and one of the most important nobles in the kingdom, not a blacksmith. His father, Balian the Elder (also known as Barisan), was the founder of the Ibelin family in the east. Balian and Sibylla were indeed united in the defense of Jerusalem; however, there is no known romantic relationship between the two. Balian was in fact married to Sibylla's step-mother Maria Comnena, Dowager Queen of Jerusalem and owner of the lordship of Nablus. The real Sibylla had, in her late teens, over ten years earlier, apparently been infatuated with the real Balian's elder brother Baldwin of Ibelin, who is not mentioned in the movie: Baldwin has partially been merged into the character of Balian. The events of the siege of Jerusalem are based on the chronicle of Ernoul, a favourable account written by one of Balian's officers. Saladin did besiege Jerusalem for almost a month, and was able to knock down a portion of the wall; Balian knighted everyone who could carry a sword, and personally negotiated the surrender of the city with Saladin, after threatening to destroy every building and kill every Muslim who entered. Saladin allowed Balian and his family to leave in peace, along with everyone who could arrange a ransom, but many of the poorer inhabitants who could not pay were sold into slavery.

The "uneasy truce" referred to in the closing scene actually refers to the the peace negotiated, with Balian's help, at the end of the Third Crusade. The Third Crusade is alluded to at the end of the movie, when Richard Lionheart visits Balian in France. Balian, of course, was not from France and did not return there with Sibylla; Sibylla and her two little daughters died of an epidemic in the military camp during Guy's two-year-long siege of Acre in 1190 when the despised Guy had been denied entry to the remaining stronghold of Tyre and thus he attempted to take another castle for himself.

The young Balian of the movie thus did not exist in reality. His namesake, the historical Balian, had descendants by Maria Comnena. Thanks to their close relationship to Sibylla's half-sister and successor, Maria Comnena's daughter the Queen Isabella (not shown in the movie), the Ibelins became the most powerful noble family in the rump Kingdom of Jerusalem as well as in Cyprus in the 13th century. Most notably, Maria and Balian's son John, the Lord of Beirut, was to be a dominant force in the politics of Outremer for the first third of the 13th century.

Brief Outline of Plot

Kingdom of Heaven follows the story of a blacksmith, who, after finding out the existence of his father, and having to deal with his wife's suicide, goes to Jerusalem in hopes of redemption and forgiveness.

Balian (Bloom), heads off to Jerusalem, after being knighted by his newlyfound father, to purge his sins and those of his wife. Upon arriving he finds that he has the favor of many men who were under his father Godfrey's (Neeson) command. He is befriended by the King of Jerusalem (Norton), who suffers from leprosy, and the Protector of Jerusalem, Tiberias (Irons). He subsequently has an affair with the Princess, Sybilla (Green), and goes on to defend Jerusalem from Saladin's (Massoud) army. There are also the antagonists, the war-hungry, power-hungry men, of Guy de Lusignan (Csorkas) and Raynald de Chatillon (Gleeson) who want nothing more than to annihilate the armies of Saladin.

As the film progresses, following Godfrey's death, Baldwin dies from inevitable leprosy, Raynald is dead together with the Knights Hospitaller (Thewlis). After 3 days of intense siege battle, and after the breaking down of a section of Jerusalem's walls, Balian surrenders to Saladin under conditions of safe passage of the inhabitants to the shore. At the end of the film, we see Balian and Sybilla heading off to an unknown location.


The general criticism has been either clearly negative or clearly positive. The main problems cited are those related to loose plot structure—especially in terms of Balian's unlikely survival of a shipwreck, and the low-born and bastard Balian heading off to Jerusalem after only a brief encounter with his noble father. The illicit love affair between Balian and Sybilla has also been seen as serving no purpose, and the movie's ecumenical overtones have been criticized as completely out of context with its historical setting.

Critics such as Roger Ebert found the film highly touching and perhaps more emotionally engaging than Scott's previous Gladiator. The more accepted view of Kingdom of Heaven, however, is that it is an unfortunate "flawed masterpiece" that might otherwise have been the next Braveheart.

In general, the performances have been praised, with the exception of those of Eva Green and Orlando Bloom. Eva Green's performance was to many critics "useless." The more debated performance is that of Bloom. The critics especially comment on his unconvincing and unmoving speeches to the soldiers of Jerusalem, and his sudden acquisition of sufficient military genius to topple all of Saladin's siege towers and in other ways thwart the sultan's attack. However, the character is a blacksmith and not a born leader, and the task was thrust upon him because of his name and his desire to redeem himself; in that sense, Bloom's casting and perhaps "melodramatic" performance would be justified.

The unanimously praised performance was that of Edward Norton who played the leper king of Jerusalem, Baldwin IV. Critics have described his acting as near "phenomenal", "eerie," and "so far removed from anything that he has ever done that we see the true complexities of his talent." (Jack Moore, Movie Insider). Many didn't recognize him until his name appeared in the end credits. The performance of Jeremy Irons has also been well recieved.

The battle scenes were compared unfavorably by some critics to those in Troy and Alexander. Others have said they match Scott's work in Gladiator.

External links

fr:Kingdom of Heaven sv:Kingdom of Heaven


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